July 13, 2014 – If it weren’t so frustrating it would be wonderful to be me.
So after I watched a bit of the World Cup final (didn’t see the goal), I wandered over to my new gate for my new flight. While it was in a completely different concourse a few things seemed familiar. The flight was delayed. And overbooked. And they were looking for folks to volunteer to be bumped. You’d get a seat on the next flight, plus $350 to spend with US Airways, no blackout dates and it was transferable to anyone. This is pretty much the gold standard for this kind of offer, so after consulting with my lady wife again (you don’t stay married for 30+ years without learning a few unbreakable rules), I volunteered to be bumped. The gate agent took my boarding pass, told me that she would call me up if there turned out to be room on the flight or would take care of me after. Cool.
Flight time finally rolls around and passengers are boarded. There is room for one final passenger and he’s boarded too. The plane pulls away and await my golden ticket. There were three of us left. One young lady had some discussion of being “refused boarding” and was going to be cut a check by the airline. The other young lady was the other volunteer to be bumped. They gave her a form to complete and her new boarding pass.
And that was it.
The agent went back to her desk and got busy with whatever it is that gate agents do between flights. With my most charming smile uploaded I wandered over and inquired about myself. She looked puzzled so I re-introduced myself, reminded her of a few details about our previous conversation and waited.
There’s that look of blank incomprehension mixed with just a dash of panic that humans get when confronted with a situation that is completely outside the boundaries of our world concept. She repeated my name, bent over her computer and said,
“Did I have two Phillippis on that flight?”
While my mother was a Smith, my father bequeathed to me one of the less common surnames on the planet. At one point the Census Bureau said that both “Rambo” and “Fudge” were more common in this country than Phillippi. So the idea that there were TWO “Jay D. Phillippi”s on any given flight is about as small as mathematically possible. (Actually, for reasons unknown to me, the airlines insist on taking my middle initial and making it part of my first. Consequently my boarding passes all read “Jayd Phillippi”. My daughter should be happy we didn’t decide to name her that).
Then the fun really began.
Turns out that the agent had flagged that name as a problem, so she had gone into the aircraft to double-check on that passenger. AND SPOKE WITH HIM! There was in fact someone on that plane with a boarding pass (she saw it) with that name on it.
Why would anyone pose as me? I mean, really, those of you who know me, can you see anyone, ANYONE, choosing me to impersonate? It boggles the mind.
In the meantime the agent dutifully checked my ID, checked the date of birth in their records, checked with her supervisor three times. I don’t think they have a ready procedure for this situation.
I kind of HOPE they don’t have one! I would hate to think this kind of thing is common!
It took a couple of hours but I now have my compensation slip. And a new boarding pass.
My original flight would have gotten me home at about 2:30 in the afternoon. This one will get me there at midnight.
The question is this – would I trade this story for getting home sooner?
Not in a million years.